Monday, March 23, 2009

University of Massachusetts student government will vote on divesting from the murder of Gaza, on March 25, 2009:

"U.S. Dollars Fund Gaza Deaths"

DAILY COLLEGIAN (University of Massachusetts)

March 23, 2009

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Blood is cheap here in America. The lives of other human beings have become worthless and we have become a society ready to kill for any cause. Some may read this and say: “This isn’t true, not in the society I live in.” Well even if you’re not willing to kill someone else, others will do it for you, and, of course, with your money.

You may not realize it, but you continue to give military aid around the world to governments that use it to slaughter people. You and I, the taxpayers, are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people around the world and we continue to be the reason for the suffering of millions.

One example of this recently made headlines all over the world: “Further accounts of Gaza killings released,” read the headline in The New York Times. But why should murder, ethnic cleansing and slaughter occurring in the Middle East matter to Americans?

Because, in this case, we paid for it. The U.S. gives $3 billion a year to Israel in military aid. We, the taxpayers, give more money in military aid to Israel than we do to all other countries combined.

Why do we give them money, which has cost each taxpayer over $24 thousand since 1949? We do so because they say they will only use it for self-defense. We do so because they say they will not kill women and children with our weapons. We do so because they say they follow international law when using the F-16s, Apache choppers and other tools of destruction we provide them. False.

Our money – our tax dollars – goes directly to Israel’s infliction of suffering on millions of human beings in Gaza and the West Bank. The Times article referred back to a Haaretz feature entitled “Shooting and Crying,” which covered the accounts of Israeli soldiers who participated in “Operation Cast Lead,” the bombing and land invasion of Gaza. It revealed how Israeli soldiers intentionally targeted innocent civilians in order to increase the suffering of the people.

For example, when asked why an elderly woman was killed, a squad commander in the Israeli army was quoted as saying: “What’s great about Gaza – you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, ‘Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.”

Surely, then, there must have been widespread condemnation from the governments of the U.S. and Israel for an atrocity like this. False.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that he believed such incidents to be exceptions, adding, “The Israeli Army is the most moral in the world.”

In the Haaretz feature, a soldier named Aviv described the orders he was given. “From above they said it was permissible, because anyone who remained in the sector and inside Gaza City was in effect condemned, a terrorist, because they hadn't fled. I didn't really understand: On the one hand they don't really have anywhere to flee to, but on the other hand they're telling us they hadn't fled so it's their fault.

He is completely right: He didn’t understand. This wasn’t an operation to find and kill terrorists. This was by definition an act of terrorism in itself to scare the people of an area into submission by destroying their property and murdering them.

You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won't say anything. To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing in understanding how much the [Israel Defense Forces] has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It's what I'll remember the most,” Aviv went on to say.

Take a closer look at the death tolls. During the conflict, 13 Israelis were killed. Of those, 10 were military personnel. On the other side, 1434 Palestinians were killed. Of those 980 were civilians, and over 550 were women or children. The sheer numbers tell a troubling story, a story of gross overuse of force. A death ratio of over 100 to 1 doesn’t even take into account the 6000 Gazans injured during the war, nor the 50,800 Gazans made homeless because their houses were destroyed.

It’s all ok though, because in the words of Ehud Barak, Israel remains “the most moral army in the world” – an army that admittedly targeted defenseless women and children, an army that went on killing indiscriminately, an army that didn’t allow outside media sources to cover their slaughter in Gaza. If that is moral, I don’t ever want to see want an immoral army is capable of.

--Subhan Tariq is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at